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Wife Poems

Table of Contents

  1. A Woman's Hand by Amos Russel Wells
  2. To My Wife by Anonymous
  3. The Wife by Emily Dickinson
  4. Nike by Bliss Carman
  5. When Compliments Pay Best by Amos Russel Wells
  6. Lines on the Death of a Farmer's Wife by James McIntyre
  7. On the Picture of a Bride by Ruby Archer
  8. The Wife by John Charles McNeill
  9. The Embarrassing Question by Amos Russel Wells
  10. A Sweet Woman by Ellen P. Allerton
  11. The Swedish Wife by Henrietta Gould Rowe
  12. The Fisher's Wife by Susan Rhyce Beckwith

  1. A Woman's Hand

    Clasping ours through life and death,
    Lovingly to latest breath,
    Sweetest thing that comforteth,—
    A woman's hand.

    - Amos Russel Wells
    A Woman's Hand
    by Amos Russel Wells

    Soft and tender, smooth and white,
    Formed for winning and delight,
    Nature has no lovelier sight,—
    A woman's hand.

    Wrinkled, worn with much to do,
    Many a task for me and you,
    In all trials good and true,—
    A woman's hand.

    Clasping ours through life and death,
    Lovingly to latest breath,
    Sweetest thing that comforteth,—
    A woman's hand.

  2. To My Wife

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Two clouds that float together all the day
    Along the sunny courses of the sky,
    Will sadly part, as day's enchantments die,
    And perish in the twilight's common gray.
    Two rivulets, that find a wedded way,
    And carol many a shining landscape by,
    Descend at last where nameless waters lie
    Beneath the ocean's all-dissolving sway,
    Not such, dear wife, dear lover, is the goal
    That waits for us upon our final breath, —
    Two bubbles, crushed within a swirl of foam;
    But like two piigrims, worn of sense and soul,
    How happy we shall be when kindly Death
    Points out the lights and open doors of home!

  3. The Wife

    She rose to his requirement, dropped
    The playthings of her life
    To take the honorable work
    Of woman and of wife.

    - Emily Dickinson
    The Wife
    by Emily Dickinson

    She rose to his requirement, dropped
    The playthings of her life
    To take the honorable work
    Of woman and of wife.

    If aught she missed in her new day
    Of amplitude, or awe,
    Or first prospective, or the gold
    In using wore away,

    It lay unmentioned, as the sea
    Develops pearl and weed,
    But only to himself is known
    The fathoms they abide.

  4. Nike

    Delicate as grasses
    When they lift and stir —
    One sweet lyric woman—
    I give thanks for her.

    - Bliss Carman
    Nike
    by Bliss Carman

    What do men give thanks for?
    I give thanks for one,
    Lovelier than morning,
    Dearer than the sun.

    Such a head the victors
    Must have praised and known,
    With that breast and bearing,
    Nike's very own—

    As superb, untrammeled,
    Rhythmed and poised and free
    As the strong pure sea-wind
    Walking on the sea;

    Such a hand as Beauty
    Uses with full heart,
    Seeking for her freedom
    In new shapes of art;

    Soft as rain in April,
    Quiet as the days
    Of the purple asters
    And the autumn haze;

    With a soul more subtle
    Than the light of stars,
    Frailer than a moth's wing
    To the touch that mars;

    Wise with all the silence
    Of the waiting hills,
    When the gracious twilight
    Wakes in them and thrills;

    With a voice more tender
    Than the early moon
    Hears among the thrushes
    In the woods of June;

    Delicate as grasses
    When they lift and stir —
    One sweet lyric woman—
    I give thanks for her.

  5. When Compliments Pay Best

    For there's an autumn beauty
    More charming than the spring;
    The grace of love and duty,
    It is a wondrous thing!

    - Amos R. Wells
    When Compliments Pay Best
    by Amos Russel Wells

    Your wife is growing old, man,
    The white is in her hair,
    But winsome to behold, man,
    As when a maiden fair.

    For there's an autumn beauty
    More charming than the spring;
    The grace of love and duty,
    It is a wondrous thing!

    Then tell your wife 'tis so, man,—
    It's better lore than books,—
    For women like to know, man,
    That men still like their looks.

    And maybe she will tell you,
    For she's a guileful tongue,
    The years so kindly spell you
    That you are looking young!

  6. Lines on the Death of a Farmer's Wife

    And her name it will long be praised
    By the large family she has raised,

    - James McIntyre
    Lines on the Death of a Farmer's Wife
    by James McIntyre

    This good woman when in this life,
    She was kind mother and good wife,
    And managed her household with care,
    She and her husband happy pair.

    And her name it will long be praised
    By the large family she has raised,
    She laid up treasures in the skies,
    And now enjoys the Heavenly prize.

    She rose each morn with happy smile,
    And ardent all the day did toil,
    For work it to her had a charm,
    And busy was each hand and arm.

  7. On the Picture of a Bride

    by Ruby Archer

    O lustrous eyes, where blithe melodious thoughts
    Break in on one another like pure bells'
    Alternate, sweetly interrupting chime;
    And forehead mild as morn in summer time,
    And lips love-gentle, animate with love,
    Half tremulous in pretty faltering,
    As all uncertain whether to begin
    With laughter, kisses, or endearing words:
    "Belovéd, my Belovéd!"

  8. The Wife

    How her wife-loyal heart had borne
    The keen pain of a flowerless thorn,

    - John Charles McNeill
    The Wife
    by John Charles McNeill

    They locked him in a prison cell,
    Murky and mean.
    She kissed him there a wife's farewell
    The bars between.
    And when she turned to go, the crowd,
    Thinking to see her shamed and bowed,
    Saw her pass out as calm and proud
    As any queen.

    She passed a kinsman on the street,
    To whose sad eyes
    She made reply with smile as sweet
    As April skies.
    To one who loved her once and knew
    The sorrow of her life, she threw
    A gay word, ere his tale was due
    Of sympathies.

    She met a playmate, whose red rose
    Had never a thorn,
    Whom fortune guided when she chose
    Her marriage morn,
    And, smiling, looked her in the eye;
    But, seeing the tears of sympathy,
    Her smile died, and she passed on by
    In quiet scorn.

    They could not know how, when by night
    The city slept,
    A sleepless woman, still and white,
    The watches kept;
    How her wife-loyal heart had borne
    The keen pain of a flowerless thorn,
    How hot the tears that smiles and scorn
    Had held unwept.

  9. The Embarrassing Question

    by Amos Russel Wells

    "Do you like my new hat?" says your wife,
    Appearing in awful disguise,
    A fabric whose towering strife
    Shrieks up to the horrified skies.

    "Do you like my new hat?" and she smiles,
    Her dimples with diffidence blent,
    And all the dear, timorous wiles
    That seek a delighted assent.

    And what is a fellow of wit.
    And honest, moreover, to do.
    But say, as he shudders from it,
    "At any rate, dear, I like you"?

  10. A Sweet Woman

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    I know her well,—a thing that few can say—
    So far within the shade her quiet life,
    So softly flow its tides from day to day,
    So gently do its hidden fountains play.
    And she—she is a mother and a wife.

    What is she like? Ah, that I do not know.
    I scarce can tell the color of her eyes,
    So changeful are the lights that come and go—
    Now a quick sparkle, now a thoughtful glow—
    But always tender sweetness in them lies.

    Beautiful?—why, yes, if beauty is a thing
    That one can feel and lean one's heart upon;
    Beauty of form and hue not now I sing.
    Her beauty is that which soon takes wing,
    And leaves but ugliness when youth is gone.

    Her hands are lovely, yet they are not white,
    Nor even small. Their beauty each one sees
    Who feels their ministrations deft and light.
    I think they are the fairest in the night,
    Cooling some hot brow, soothing pain to ease.

    She is a queen; and yet no jewelled crown
    Enfolds the soft bands of her shining hair.
    Love is her coronet. Hands hard and brown,
    And tiny baby fingers, clasp it down.
    Methinks that is the holiest crown to wear.

    Silent her work, and all unknown to fame.
    Of loud, for sounding praise she never dreams.
    The world's great trumpeter's know not her name.
    Her steady light is no wide-flaring flame;
    'Tis but a fireside lamp, that softly gleams.

    I do not know—I think her way is best.
    Her husband trusts her, and her children rise
    With sweetly smiling lips, and call her blest.
    She does her duty, leaves to God the rest.
    She is not great, but, surely she is wise.

  11. The Swedish Wife

    by Henrietta Gould Rowe. In the State House at Augusta, Me., is a bunch of cedar shingles made by a Swedish woman the wife of one of the earliest settlers of New Sweden, who, with her husband sick and a family of little ones dependent upon her, made with her own hands these shingles, and carried them eight miles upon her back to the town of Caribou, where she exchanged them for provisions for her family.

    The morning sun shines bright and clear,
    Clear and cold, for winter is near,—
    Winter, the chill and dread:
    And the fire burns bright in the exile's home,
    With fagot of fir from the mountain's dome,
    While the children clamor for bread.

    Against the wall stands the idle wheel,
    Unfinished the thread upon the spindle and reel,
    The empty cards are crost;
    But nigh to the hearthstone sits the wife,
    With cleaver and mallet,—so brave and so blithe,
    She fears not famine or frost.

    Fair and soft are her braided locks,
    And the light in her blue eye merrily mocks
    The shadow of want and fear,
    As deftly, with fingers supple and strong,
    She draws the glittering shave along,
    O'er the slab of cedar near.

    Neatly and close are the shingles laid,
    Bound in a bunch,—then, undismayed,
    The Swedish wife uprose:
    "Be patient, my darlings," she blithely said,
    "I go to the town, and you shall have bread,
    Ere the day has reached its close."

    Eight miles she trudged—'twas a weary way;
    The road was rough, the sky grew gray
    With the snow that sifted down;
    Bent were her shoulders beneath their load,
    But high was her heart, for love was the goad
    That urged her on to the town.

    Ere the sun went down was her promise kept,
    The little ones feasted before they slept;
    While the father, sick in bed,
    Prayed softly, with tears and murmurs low,
    That his household darlings might never know
    A lack of their daily bread.

  12. The Fisher's Wife

    by Susan Rhyce Beckwith

    Lonely, desponding—the gathering gloom
    Slowly filling the quiet room—
    Sits the fisher's wife, with disheveled hair;—
    What does she see in the darkness there?

    Outside, the breakers, with sullen dash
    Fling high their spray to the window-sash,
    That, by the fitful gleams of the moonlight thrown,
    Seems like prison-bars on her floor of stone.

    On this same night, ten years before,
    While the angry sea lashed the rock-bound shore,
    She, anxiously watching, trimmed her light;—
    And the waves were cold, and the moon was bright.

    "Set the light, my lass, by the cottage door,"
    Said the fisher that morn as he sought the shore;
    "The moon will be up when I come to-night;
    Her wake once crossed, I shall be all right."

    With earnest eye, since the waning day,
    She had followed the moon in her upward way,
    And her quivering wake on the midnight sea,
    If there the looked-for boat might be.

    'Mong the rocks, where shadows so darksomely hide,
    Where the sea-foam that wreathed them was gone with the tide
    With tight'ning hands o'er the sickening heart,
    With blanching cheek, and lips apart—
    Like a statue she stood, so cold and white,
    Searching, but vainly, into the night.

    A tiny form with outstretched hands,
    And pink feet glancing among the sands,
    And a baby voice—"Mamma, mamma!"
    But the merciless sea, shock after shock,
    Assaulting the solid towering rock
    With fearful echoes, re-echoing far,
    Swallows the cry;
    Did'st thou hear it not?

    *******

    There's a desolate heart and an empty cot.
    And that little form, uncoffined and white,
    Revealed by the gleams of the pale moonlight,
    As pulseless it lay on the surf-washed shore,
    Shall rest on her memory evermore.

    'Tis this she sees in that quiet room,
    Where all is wrapped in the gathering gloom;
    And alone—God help her! she sits apart,
    With folded hands and a broken heart!

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